Blank City (2010)
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I respect their comments and their views. I still have to disagree with one of them, which goes a bit too far and does imply something, that the movie does not do or try to do. This movie is not glorifying the filmmakers from that time. Quite the contrary, sometimes they are shown as complete lunatics. But that is the appeal of the movie. It does show you people as they are, without judging them. The judging comes from within the viewer.
And while I have to admit not being a big fan (and also not knowing many) of the movies, I really did enjoy the movie. I liked the way it was shot and I liked the interviews. The pacing was great and the shots were interesting. And that was all before the lovely director came on stage and talked a bit about the movie. Unfortunately I had to leave and didn't have a chance to talk to her. But I hope to see more of the team behind this (her "partners in crime" were there too).
I saw this at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and I'm going to be upfront here and admit that I was under the impression from the EIFF brochure that this was going to be about something else. It sounded like it was going to cover the post-punk scene in the grimy streets of NYC circa 1980. But really, this documentary is more or less only about these underground films and filmmakers. While many of the participants are fascinating and some of the films seem odd and of-their-time enough to be of interest, I just felt that for my tastes the material was stretched out to breaking point. I was hoping that the music scene would be given some exposure too, to compliment proceedings but that just didn't happen. Having said that, having heard some Lydia Lunch recordings in the past this may not have been strictly a bad thing. I guess I was essentially hoping for NYC post-punk music to be covered more generally, rather than specifically the No Wave movement, of which I am not keen on at all. At least in the 60's the art films of Andy Warhol had The Velvet Underground to soundtrack them.
It's certainly interesting in places and occasionally funny. But it does get a bit wearing after a time. This would most probably have made a much better short film; it doesn't in truth really justify its feature length as there just isn't enough development in content or trajectory. It's an admirable effort but sadly it just wasn't for me.
If your not familiar with this genre of film-making, it won't take you long to figure out these filmmakers were the equivalent of the music Punk Rock pioneers of the day...although...not near as relevant or successful.
The main goal of this documentary is show fans how/when/where this style/genre of film making started. You get to find out why these individuals started making films the way they did. They were odd, gory, abstract and stuff you wouldn't normally watch...but hey, it was the 70's and we know what a bizzaro decade that was. So this was the excuse to shock and awe the audience by putting these pointless exercises on celluloid.
The main interest for me was the interviews with Jim Jarmusch and Steve Buscemi. Yeah it's the Steve Buschemi we all know and love. He was in one of the early one of these films...it was where he started his acting career. Out of the whole assortment of Directors they talk to and mention Jim Jarmusch is the only one, to this day, who gets mentioned in film circles as a really good film maker. Why? simple...because even though his films are still kind of odd, they are watchable. They have a goal at the end of each one. They're not meandering collages of part shock and art film with no point. They aren't just moving images...they're actual stories.
It was funny to sit and listen to some of these directors sit and talk about how great their stuff was and I can guarantee that 99% of the film viewing world hasn't even heard of these people. This is one of these cases where it's in New York so it's important and has meaning and it sets a trend. Well, problem is...it didn't. These were just poor broke people who ran around with 8mm cameras trying to fit into a scene in NY at the time and now they can sit back and talk about their triumph...or their perceived triumph.
LIttle of this is true. NYC has always been about fashion and high prices. Just look at New Yorker Magazine from 1923!!
The movie is sort of boring. Let's be honest, these filmmakers are not very good. And there is little new in this documentary that hasn't been covered a gazillion times before.
And how many times can you listen to some now rich idiot say "there wasy no money" "we did it for no money" "we didn't have any money."
Who does when your 18? What a borefest